Mumbai: As the Supreme Court is set to deliver its verdict on whether Aruna Shanbaug should be allowed to live or die, the nurses who have been involved in her care for over three decades speak out for the first time on camera.
They say as long as Aruna has people to care for her, she should be allowed to live.
"I don't want her to be killed like this," said Sister Kushe.
Now 80 years old, Sister Pramila Kushe was at KEM hospital when Aruna was sexually assaulted by a sweeper 37 years ago and was the among the first to see her that terrible morning.
"Aruna was in a sitting position with a chain around her neck. As soon as she saw matron Bellimal, tears started running down her face. She tried to say something but words would not come. She tried for a few minutes but only her lips moved. And then slowly she lost consciousness," recalls Sister Kushe, now a retired Matron.
It's KEM hospital's nurses that have lovingly cared for Aruna for over three decades. They take pride in the fact that she never had any bed sores. In fact in the past when one dean moved her to another hospital, the nurses struck work to bring her back.
Matron Durga Mehta was among those who cared for Aruna for 20 years. She says despite her vegetative state, Aruna can still communicate and respond in her own way.
"I talk to her, Aruna how are you? She makes noise..aaahhhhhaa like that," Durga says.
"When food touches her lips she opens her mouth. She would chew, and not just gulp. She even listens to music sometimes but could not locate the direction of the song," said Sister Pramila Kushe.
Almost every nurse at KEM has been put on Aruna's caretaking duty one time or the other in her career. So they all feel personally involved as they wait for the verdict. Under strict instructions not to speak to the media all they can do now is hope for the best, silently.